Nancy Kerrigan’s Life Compared To Tonya Harding

In the movie, “I, Tonya,” the disgraced figure skater, Tonya Harding looks back on the 1994 Nancy Kerrigan scandal and her struggles to tell her side of the story. And in 2014, ESPN released a documentary called The Price of Gold and NBC broadcast a TV movie titled Nancy & Tonya.

The Price of Gold is about the 1994 kneecapping of the Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan by some thugs who later said they were acquainted with her great rival, Tonya Harding.
The 77-minute documentary is a short, smart and comprehensive account of the rivalry that dominated American women’s figure skating in the early 1990s and also of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan from entering the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

It is mostly Tonya Harding’s story as she agreed to an interview while Nancy Kerrigan did not, and in any case, she was always the more compelling figure. In film shot when she was 6 she skates like a locomotive and spins like a dervish. In a 1986 interview, her coach says, in language that would feel wrong now, when we like our poverty more jolly and airbrushed: “Skating, for Tonya, is her ticket out of the gutter.” She goes on: “She lives in a terrible rental house, no supervision at all, she has no direction. She would have nothing in her life if it wasn’t for her skating.”

Ms. Harding parlayed her determination and her hard-knock story into considerable success, but she felt she never escaped the indelible stain of her poor background, and she and others recount how her hairdos, her costumes and the music she chose for her routines were sniffed at, and worse, by the self-consciously genteel guardians of figure skating.

Twenty years after pleading guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution of Nancy Kerrigan’s attackers but saying she had no prior knowledge of their plans, Tonya Harding sits for an interview, her famously feathered 80’s hair now long and straight. She’s well-spoken and reasonable, right up until she can’t stand it anymore, and Ms. Burstein builds her film to that point, an outburst of sheer vexation aimed at Nancy Kerrigan and the people who preferred her demure outfit style and appearance. “Nancy’s a princess, you know?” Tonya Harding says, starting her roll. “That’s how everybody sees her. She’s a princess and I’m a pile of,” well, something unprincesslike.

Now that you’ve got the gist of Tonya’s side, let’s dive a bit deeper into Nancy Kerrigan.

Who is Nancy Kerrigan?

Nancy Kerrigan (born October 13, 1969) is an American former figure skater and actress. She won bronze medals at the 1991 World Championships and the 1992 Winter Olympics, silver medals at the 1992 World Championships and the 1994 Winter Olympics, and she was the 1993 US National Figure Skating Champion. Kerrigan was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004.

In January 1994, an assailant used a police baton to strike Kerrigan on her landing knee; the attacker was hired by the ex-husband of her rival Tonya Harding. The attack injured Kerrigan, but she quickly recovered. Harding and Kerrigan both participated in the 1994 Winter Olympics, but after the Games, Harding was permanently banned from competitive figure skating. At the Olympics, Kerrigan won the silver medal in a controversial showdown with gold medal winner Oksana Baiul. She then started touring and performed with several ice skating troupes that included Champions on Ice and Broadway on Ice. In 2017, she was a contestant on the TV show, Dancing with the Stars.

Nancy Kerrigan vs Tonya Harding Early Life

Kerrigan became prominent on a national level when she placed fourth at the junior level in the 1987 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She made an early impression as a strong jumper, but was weak in compulsory figures and continued to be so until compulsory figures were removed.

Tonya Maxene Harding was born on November 12, 1970, in Portland, Oregon. Her mother is LaVona Golden and father was Albert Harding. Harding began skating at age three. During her youth, Harding was a daddy’s girl and hunted and learned automotive mechanics from her father. He held various odd jobs including managing apartments, driving a truck, and working at a bait-and-tackle store – yet was often underemployed due to poor health. Her mother LaVona struggled to support the family while working as a waitress and hand-sewed her daughter’s skating costumes as they could not afford to purchase them. Harding’s parents divorced after 19 years of marriage in 1987 when she was 16 years old. She later dropped out of Milwaukee High School during her sophomore year to focus on skating and earned a General Educational Development (GED) Certificate in 1988.

According to Harding, she was frequently abused by her mother. She stated that by the time she was seven years old, physical and psychological abuse had both become a regular part of her life. LaVona admitted to one instance of hitting Harding at an ice rink with a hairbrush. In January 2018, Harding’s childhood friend and filmmaker, Sandra Luckow, spoke in defense of Harding’s mother because she felt that the 2017 film I, Tonya stretched some truths about LaVona’s character.

In Harding’s 2008 authorized biography, The Tonya Tapes (written by Lynda D. Prouse from recorded interviews with Harding), she stated she was the victim of acquaintance rape in 1991 and that her half-brother, Chris Davison, molested her on several occasions when she was a child. In 1986, Harding called the police after Davison had been sexually harassing and terrorizing her. He was arrested and spent a short time in prison. Harding claimed that her parents were in denial about Davison’s behavior and told her not to press criminal charges against him.

Outfits and Personality

Nancy Kerrigan’s Olympic figure skating outfits were designed by the prominent fashion designer Vera Wang. Nancy Kerrigan’s white 1992 free-skating costume resembled a wedding dress with sheer illusion sleeves and a basketweave design on the bodice. She wore another white dress trimmed with black velvet bands and sheer black sleeves for the original program and a champagne-colored dress set with 11,500 rhinestones for the free skate. Wang donated those two dresses to Kerrigan, the values of which were estimated at $9,600 and $13,000, respectively.

In the documentary, Tonya Harding sits for an interview and has an outburst of sheer vexation aimed at Nancy Kerrigan and everyone who preferred her demure style and appearance. “Nancy’s a princess, you know?” Ms. Harding says, starting her roll. “That’s how everybody seen her. She’s a princess and I’m a pile of,” well, something unprincesslike.

Post Olympic Career

In the early 2000s, Tonya Harding competed as a professional boxer, and her life has been the subject of numerous films, documentaries, books, and academic studies. In 2014, two documentaries about Tonya Harding’s life and skating career (The Price of Gold and Nancy & Tonya) premiered within two months of each other, inspiring Steven Rogers to write the darkly comedic biographical film I, Tonya, released in 2017 and starring Margot Robbie as Harding. In 2018, Harding was a contestant of Dancing with the Stars and finished in third place.

Nancy Kerrigan’s life was not filled with as much negative drama after the scandal. Following her silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, she won a mere seven weeks after the attack on her knee. Kerrigan retired from competitive ice skating at the age of 25. Her graceful athleticism and Vera Wang costumes made an indelible impression on the sport, and she earned millions of dollars in endorsements, thanks in part to her manager (and later husband) Jeff Solomon. In other words, Kerrigan went out on a high note. Her net worth (mentioned below) is SO much more than Tonya Harding. 

Kerrigan turned professional after the Olympics. She appeared in a few competitions such as Broadway on Ice, Ice Wars, Champions on Ice and an ice show adaptation of the musical Footloose, among other productions

In 2003, Nancy Kerrigan became a national spokeswoman for Fight for Sight. In 2017, she took on the most high-profile gig she’s had since her Olympic days by competing on Dancing With the Stars. In 2018, Nancy Kerrigan joined Inside Edition as their Super Bowl correspondent. She also appeared in an episode on the TV show “Fresh Off The Boat” as herself. Speaking with NBC Sports in December 2015, after an unusually hectic slate of shows, Kerrigan said, “I’ve done shows for the last bunch of years, different shows here or there, maybe one or two or five, depends, but I haven’t done a tour. Just sort of one-off things. Why? Because I’m a mom, and I have three kids.”

Personal Life

As of this writing, Kerrigan’s kids are 19, 12, and 9 years old, and outside of her very selective figure skating performances, they are her world. During an emotional segment on Dancing With the Stars (via People), she opened up about her heartbreaking journey to grow her family. Kerrigan revealed that she suffered six miscarriages in the eight years following the birth of her firstborn son, Matthew. “I always thought I’d have three kids by the time I was 30,” Kerrigan told People, explaining that she relied on in vitro fertilization to conceive her second and third children, Brian and Nicole.

Kerrigan said ice-skating takes a backseat to “being with my kids after school and asking them how their day was.”

Tonya’s personal life, on the other hand, has always been very tough. According to Harding, after her parents had divorced, her father took off and she was forced to live with her mother who was a bad role model. She stated that by the time she was seven years old, physical and psychological abuse had both become a regular part of her life. LaVona admitted to one instance of hitting Harding at an ice rink.

In September 1986, when she was 15 years old, Harding fell in love with 17-year-old Jeff Gillooly. They married on March 18, 1990, when she was 19 and he was 22. In January 1992, Harding stated “Jeff always put food on the table and a roof over my head. He paid for my skating for a couple of years. If it hadn’t been for him during that time, I wouldn’t have been skating.” On August 28, 1993, they divorced after a tumultuous marriage. During the autumn of 1993, it was reported that Gillooly was working part-time managing Harding’s career and taking real-estate classes. Harding and Gillooly had been continuing to see each other since early October 1993 and were sharing a rented chalet together in Beavercreek, Oregon until the evening of January 18, 1994.

She married her second husband, Michael Smith, in 1995 but they divorced in 1996. Then Tanya married 42-year-old Joseph Price, whom she met at a local restaurant called Timbers, on June 23, 2010, when she was 39 years old. She gave birth to her only child, a son Gordon in 2011.
After leaving skating and boxing, Harding worked as a welder, a painter at a metal fabrication company, and a hardware sales clerk at Sears. In 2017, she worked as a painter and deck builder. She resides in Vancouver, Washington.

On an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on February 26, 2018, Harding stated that she is still active in skating and practices three times a week, and so does Kerrigan. She has performed in shows such as Halloween on Ice and the awkwardly-named Musselman’s Apple Sauce Family Skating Tribute as recently as 2016.

In 2014, Nancy Kerrigan did address the scandal with sportscaster Bob Costas: “Whatever apology Tonya has given, I accept it. It’s time for all of us – I’ve always wished [Tonya] well – she has her own family, I have my family. It’s time to make that our focus and move on with our lives.

General Trivia

What happened Nancy Kerrigan?

In January 1994, an assailant used a police baton to strike Kerrigan on her kneecaps; the thug who attacked Nancy was hired by the ex-husband of her rival Tonya Harding. The attack injured Kerrigan, but she quickly recovered. Tonya and Nancy Kerrigan both participated in the 1994 Winter Olympics, but after the Games, Harding was permanently banned from competitive figure skating.

What happened with Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan?

In January 1994, Harding became the front and center of the controversy when her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, orchestrated a physical attack on her fellow skating rival Nancy Kerrigan. Harding later pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution in March and was banned for life on June 30, 1994, from the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Though she was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association, Harding found a loophole via “non-sanctioned” professional events that allowed her to get back on the ice in 1999, according to The Chicago Tribune. She staged her comeback in Huntington, W. Va. at the ESPN Professional Skating Championships, hoping to end her then-reality of obscurity and odd jobs–house painting, construction, and bit parts in cable movies.

How much is Nancy Kerrigan worth?

Nancy Kerrigan is an American Olympic figure skater. Her total net worth is $8 million. Tonya, on the other hand, has a net worth of about $30,000 even though Tonya Harding was the first American woman to land a triple axel at the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

How old is Nancy Kerrigan?

Nancy Kerrigan, born on October 13, 1969, in Woburn, Massachusetts is currently 49 years old. Tonya Harding is 48 years old.

What does Nancy Kerrigan do for a living?

Nancy Kerrigan is an Actor, Dancer, and Figure Skater while Harding has worked as a welder, a painter at a metal fabrication company, and a hardware sales clerk at Sears. In 2017, she worked as a painter and deck builder.

Is Nancy Kerrigan married?

Yes, to Jerry Solomon since 1995.

Did Nancy Kerrigan win a gold medal?

She began training and competing in grammar school and won a bronze medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics. In January 1994, Kerrigan was attacked by a hitman hired by the ex-husband Jeff Gillooly to her skating rival Tonya Harding. Despite her infamous knee injury, Nancy Kerrigan went on to win the silver medal at the 1994 Olympic games.

In conclusion, this Olympic rivalry has made the figure skating sport famous.
According to The New York Times, Coach Frank Carroll acknowledged the source of figure skating’s new fan base. “It’s absolutely mind-boggling how figure skating became so popular because of that incident,” he said, adding, “As much as we put down Tonya Harding, women’s sports—figure skating in particular—owe her a great debt of gratitude. But it was a terrible, regrettable way to go about it.”

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